Shawn O'Brien, CFA

Senior Analyst, Retirement

Team page shawn obrien

About Shawn

As a senior analyst, Shawn is responsible for covering the retirement markets space, focusing specifically on defined contribution (DC) plans, the IRA market, and asset managers’ DCIO strategies. He contributes to The Cerulli Report and The Cerulli Edge series.

Prior to joining Cerulli Associates, Shawn worked as a Research Associate at Harvard Business School, where he co-authored case studies alongside professors focusing on investment management for individual and institutional investors, and innovations in financial technology. Prior to that, he worked in the Currency Management group at State Street Global Markets, employing currency overlay strategies for large asset managers and asset owners.


  • Boston College
    Master of Science in Applied Economics
  • Merrimack College
    Bachelor of Science in Finance
  • CFA® charterholder

Honors and Awards

  • Defined Contribution Institutional Investment Association (DCIIA) member
  • Investment Policy and Design Committee
  • ESG Subcommittee
  • Retirement Income Committee
  • Quoted in the Financial Times, Barron’s, and other industry leading publications as a subject matter expert on retirement a subject-matter expert on retirement market trends

Areas of Expertise

  • Asset management and recordkeeping landscape within the U.S. retirement markets
  • Trends in DC participant decision-making and behavior
  • Advice and product innovation trends in the DC market

Recent Project Work

  • Articles related to lifetime income and DC participant trading behavior for The Cerulli Edge – U.S. Retirement Edition
  • Presentations on Cerulli’s latest research findings related to U.S. retirement market trends
  • Surveys crafted for the following audiences: defined contribution investment-only (DCIO) asset managers, DC recordkeepers, collective investment trust (CIT) providers, and retirement plan advisors

Learn More about the Retirement Practice

Cerull's U.S. Retirement practice captures evolving dynamics of the market across plan providers, plan sponsors, plan participants, and intermediaries.

Learn More

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